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CACI to Acquire Optical Communications Tech Provider SA Photonics for $275M

By Calvin Biesecker | November 3, 2021

SA Photonics CrossBeam system for satellite crosslinks. Photo: SA Photonics

CACI International on Wednesday said it has agreed to acquire SA Photonics for $275 million in a deal that complements its existing Free Space Optical (FSO) communications capabilities for the U.S. government and commercial customers, and adds development and production capacity.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close this year. CACI said it will provide additional financial information related to the acquisition when it reports second quarter fiscal year financial results early in 2022.

Jefferies & Co. aerospace and defense analyst Sheila Kahyaoglu estimates SA Photonics’ annual sales at about $17 million.

SA Photonics, which is based on California, develops and manufactures photonics technologies for optical communications used in airborne, space and terrestrial applications for government and commercial customers. CACI’s FSO technology is used in Medium-Earth Orbit (MEO) and Geostationary Orbit (GEO), while SA Photonics brings high-volume Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), Optical Inter-satellite Links (OISL).

“For two decades, CACI has successfully delivered FSO communications to advance evolutionary technology for the protection and exploration of the contested space domain,” John Mengucci, president and CEO of CACI, said in a statement. “Our innovative space-based photonics technology delivers enhanced capability for missions ranging from national security to human space flight. With SA Photonics, our combined technology enables us to deliver immediate FSO communications across all domains.”

SA Photonics says its OISL technology allows satellites to communicate with each other, creating a mesh network that allows all the satellites to remain in constant communication with equipment on the ground. Both companies tout the capabilities of their photonics-based technologies for providing high data rates with low probabilities of detection or defeat.

The company’s technology is used on the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA) Blackjack program to develop and demonstrate elements of a global high-speed network based in LEO and the Space Development Agency’s (SDA) Tranche 0 satellites in LEO for secure, resilient low-latency military data communications.

CACI also said that SA Photonics’ technology offers low size, weight, power and cost solutions for the transmission of data 25 times faster than current radio frequency systems while using payloads that are half the size.

SA Photonics also develops LIDAR and augmented and virtual reality helmet and head-mounted displays and vision systems for use by military and commercial pilots, training and other applications. Kahyaoglu said that the company’s founder is retaining these portions of the business.

This article was originally published by Via Satellite sister publication Defense Daily.